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How to Play Baccarat

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How to Play Baccarat

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An exciting game of chance, Baccarat is that enigmatic card game you see in movies, where high-rollers play in opulent casinos. This game exudes refinement, evoking images of men in tuxedos and women in posh evening dresses, laying down chips as the dealer distributes cards.

If you're not sure how to play Baccarat online, don't let the game's mystique intimidate you. It's easy to learn and fun to play—the game's sophistication is more a function of style than complexity. No matter your level of gaming expertise, you'll be able to pick it up in minutes. With some time and practice you can master the nuances of this thrilling card game.

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How does Baccarat work?

The game elements and rules regarding online Baccarat work almost identically to live play at a Las Vegas casino—with the same thrill of anticipation. The main difference is, in Baccarat online, a virtual dealer passes out digital playing cards, rather than pitting yourself against a live dealer with physical cards. When learning to play Baccarat online or in person, understanding the key elements of the game are essential. First, we’ll explain the main player elements of the game.

The Dealer

The dealer's role is to simply hand out the cards, but isn't a participant in the actual game. The dealer passes out two cards face up to each of the two gaming spots at the Baccarat table—the banker's space and the player's space. No matter how many people are playing, the dealer only deals out two hands. Those participating in the game bet on the outcome of the two hands before the cards are dealt.

The Banker

The first active game space at the table is the banker's spot. In both online and in-person Baccarat, the banker isn't a real person, but a virtual player who the actual players compete against. The dealer passes two cards to the banker spot face-up.

The Player

Much like the banker, the player spot represents a virtual participant in the game. This space at the Baccarat table indicates the hand that competes with the banker's cards.

Participants

Also called players, participants don't touch the cards at all in traditional baccarat. They simply place wagers as to whether the player or the banker will win. Each participant gets a betting space marked with the game's betting options. In peel baccarat, participants are able to turn up cards that the dealer passes out face-down.

Baccarat Rules

The objective of Baccarat is simple: the player and banker sides work against each other to have the hand closest to nine points. At the end of the round, the hand that gets closest to nine is the winning hand. Though primarily a game of chance, many participants have developed their own Baccarat strategy for placing bets.

How Baccarat Hands, Cards, and Points Work

Each card is worth a certain number of points, based on the face value of that card. Face values are as follows:

  • Ace: Worth one point
  • 2-9: Worth the face value of the card
  • 10, Jack, Queen, and King: Worth 0 points

The total point value of each hand is added up, and no point total can exceed nine. Any total point value of 10 or above, subtracts 10 from the total value. For example, a point value of 10 would equal 0. Likewise, if a player hand shows two sevens, the total value would initially be 14. Subtract 10 from that, and the actual point value is four.

If the player's or the banker's total is eight or nine on the deal, it's considered a natural win. If one side is dealt eight points and the other is dealt nine, the side with nine points automatically wins. Likewise, if one side gets eight points on the deal, but the other side gets zero total, the side with eight points wins, and the side with the zero points receives no opportunity to take additional cards.

If either the player or the banker has five or fewer points on the deal, that side must hit and receive an additional card—which is then added to the current total. If a side's total equals six or more, they have to stay and take the point total they received, except in certain cases. If the banker has a 6 and the player hits, with a card value of 6 or 7, the banker will then hit on their own six.

If it's necessary for either side to draw an additional card, whichever hand is closest to nine after receiving the third card wins the round.

An example round might look something like this:

  • Dealer deals an ace and a king to the banker, a seven and a six to the player.
    • Banker has a total of 1—ace being worth 1 and the king being worth 0 points.
    • Player has a total of 3 points—7 + 6 = 13. Subtract 10 for scores over 9.
  • Each side must hit. Banker turns up a 5 and the player receives a 5.
    • Banker now has 6 points.
    • Player now has 8 points, which is the closest to 9.
    • The player wins this round of Baccarat.

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How to Bet on Baccarat

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The rules of betting on Baccarat are quite simple and straightforward. Each participant space at the Baccarat table contains three betting options. Before a game begins, you place your chips based on who you favor to win that round. You can choose to bet on the banker or the player side to win. You're also able to bet on the game ending in a tie.

Go with the banker bet if you prefer to play it safe. The banker bet offers a slightly lower house edge than a player bet—typically a 1.06% advantage in favor of the house.

If you're somewhat adventurous, go with the player bet. It has a slightly more favorable advantage for the house, at 1.36%, but this edge is much smaller than the house advantage on a tie bet.

If you're in it for the excitement that comes with a thrilling game of chance, lay down a wager on a tie. A tie occurs when both the player-side and banker-side have identical ending total points. The odds are much longer than a player or banker bet to win—with a 14.4% house edge—but the payout is much higher at 8:1.

Baccarat Payouts

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Baccarat pays out based entirely on the bet you make. Banker and player wagers offer the same return, but have slightly different rules regarding payouts. The return on a tie bet is much greater, but the odds are much longer—which makes this an exciting bet for some, and one to avoid for others.

How Payouts Work

Player bets and banker bets both pay even—1:1—money. If you bet $1, you win $1, walking away with $2. The DraftKings commission on banker wins in Baccarat is the standard 5%.

The banker bet pays even money, minus a small commission. Though you have the best odds of winning a banker bet, most casinos take a commission on winning banker bets. The house commission is typically 5% or $1.00, depending on the establishment. If you're able to choose the commission type, 5% works better for low-stakes winnings. On winnings of $20.00 or more, you're better off with the $1.00 commission.

The player bet returns a straight 1:1 payout. However, the house doesn't levy any commission on a player-side win. Though the house has a slightly higher edge than with the banker-side bet, your takeaway is also slightly larger.

Other Baccarat Wagers

Depending on the platform or establishment, there are a number of interesting side bets you're able to place on Baccarat beyond player win, a banker win, or a tie. You place these bets before the round starts. Their odds vary by establishment and platform.

Player Pair

At 11:1 odds, this side bet wagers that the player will receive identical cards on the deal.

Banker Pair

This side bet wagers that the banker will receive a pair on the deal. As with the player pair, this pays 11:1 odds.

Either Pair

You can wager that either side—player or banker—will receive a pair on the deal, paying 5:1 odds.

Perfect Pair

The perfect pair bet wagers that the player, the banker, or both will receive cards of identical face values and identical suits on the deal. A bet for either pays 25:1 odds. For both, the odds are 200:1.

3-Card Win

This side bet allows participants to wager before the deal on whether it will take the player or the banker three cards to win the hand. This means whichever side you're betting on has to take a third card before winning in order for you to win this side bet. A player 3-card win has 4:1 odds, and a banker 3-card win pays 5:1 odds.

Baccarat Game Tips

With Baccarat—as with any gaming venture—enter into it with a plan. Set your limits and stick to them. Determine how much you're willing to lose at the game, and cut your losses when you've reached your loss limit. Leave the table, and return to play another day.

Not sure what to bet? Take it to the bank. Not only is the banker hand in baccarat one of the best bets in the casino with an extremely low house edge, it also wins more often than the player hand.

Look for trends and patterns as you play. If the player or banker is streaking, following the flow of the cards can be profitable. While no outcome is guaranteed, tracking patterns and predicting future trends is a fun and interesting way to play.

Never bet the player and the banker at the same time. Only one side can win at a time.

Play online baccarat variants as a way to mix things up. DraftKings offers specialty baccarat variations like Lunar New Year Baccarat that change the feel of the game based on the lunar calendar.

Likewise, set a win limit as well. When you've won your limit, cash out and walk away. It's a uniquely exciting game, and it's easy to get caught up in it—especially once you've gotten the hang of the various Baccarat techniques. Exercising moderation and sticking to your plan helps to ensure you don't take it farther than you intended, and makes the game more fun to play.

Get into the action, start playing today!

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